Stevia is increasingly popular as a sugar substitute. It is also widely known as a zero-calorie sweetener, making it an excellent alternative for people who are trying to reduce calorie intake or losing weight.
Perhaps, you’ve been using this alternative sweetener every now and then. After a big cleaning in the pantry, you found a box that’s approaching its expiration date.
At this point, you’re wondering: does stevia go bad? How do you determine that stevia has gone bad?
If you have a similar situation above, keep reading. This article talks about the nitty-gritty of stevia’s shelf life, storage, and signs of spoilage.
For the purpose of this article, stevia refers to commercially-prepared stevia products and does not include homegrown stevia leaves.
What Is Stevia?
Stevia is an alternative sweetener made by extracting steviol glycosides from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant.
In South America, where the plant originated, the leaves are commonly used as a sweetener in teas and medicines.
However, stevia products we find at grocery stores are different from the leaves. For example, in Stevia in The Raw and Truvia, these products only contain highly-refined stevia leaf extracts, but not the leaves.
Highly refined stevia extracts are considered ‘generally recognized as safe’ (GRAS) to use as sweeteners by the USFDA. But, this is not the case for the whole-leaf and crude leaf extracts.
Stevia extract is 100 to 200 times sweeter than cane sugar and contains zero calories. Therefore, it becomes a popular sugar substitute for low-calorie diets and people with diabetes.
Stevia sweetener products are commonly available in powder (in packets or jar) and liquid form (also known as ‘stevia drops’).
How To Store Stevia
Stevia powder and liquid are easy to handle. Simply keep them under cool, dry conditions to maintain the quality.
To preserve the quality, protect them from high humidity and temperatures. In other words, keep them away from a damp area, near a sink, or beside a window.
Exposure to excess moisture and high humidity may result in caking. Of course, this is not ideal but should the product remains safe to use.
Stevia powder often comes in a jar or in a refill pack. The former needs no further treatment. For the refill package, transfer the powder into an airtight container.
Use a clean and dry spoon to take out the powder. Close the lid tightly after each use.
Do you need to refrigerate stevia powder or liquid?
Refrigeration is unnecessary for the powder.
Meanwhile, stevia liquid might need refrigeration after opening—depending on the brands. Not all stevia liquid products are created equally. So, it is best to pay attention to the storage instructions.
How Do You Tell If Stevia Has Gone Bad?
Different products have different formulations. Some products may have a mild, bitter aftertaste. And, that’s normal and not considered as a defect. You need to know how it looks, smells, and tastes when it’s still new.
When it comes to spotting spoilage signs, you can pretty much rely on your senses.
Give it a thorough look and sniff it. If you spot something unusual or notice a change in the smell or taste, better discard it.
As mentioned earlier, stevia powder tends to attract and hold moisture. If that happens, it becomes caking or lumpy. Don’t worry, you can still use the powder. Simply add it to your coffee and gently stir it to dissolve the lumps.
How Long Does Stevia Last?
Stevia powder, such as Stevia in The Raw and Truvia, typically has a 3-year shelf life reflected in the “best by” date on the package. Don’t forget to check this date before purchase.
With proper storage, the powder should be edible until this recommended date and possibly beyond it.
After prolonged storage, the powder may become clumpy or caking if exposed to moisture or high temperature. But, the product is still safe to use.
If you find old liquid stevia or powdered stevia in the back of your cupboard, check for spoilage signs. Throw it out in case of doubt.
|Stevia powder / liquid / drop (commercially prepared; opened or unopened)||3 years or best-by date + 6 to 12 months|
This table is a general estimate. The actual shelf life depends on the brand and storage conditions.
It is not necessary to freeze stevia powder or liquid. Commercially-prepared products have a fantastic shelf life of up to three years. Simply keep it in a cool, dry space, away from heat and moisture.
Regulations on stevia usage vary by country. It was initially banned due to insufficient toxicological information and its risks to human health. Since 2008, the FDA allows the use of highly-refined stevia extracts as sweeteners, but not the whole leaves. Meanwhile, in some other countries, the leaves can already be commercially sold as dietary supplements. (*)
The USFDA has approved highly-refined stevia extract in commercial stevia products as generally recognized as safe (GRAS). However, the use of whole leaves and crude extracts is not authorized. For people with diabetes, be cautious with stevia products containing maltodextrin or dextrose. Consult your physician if you want to include this sweetener into your diet, particularly if you have certain medical conditions.
Commercially-prepared stevia products are wonderful alternatives for sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners.
Proper storage only requires a cool, dry place. Refrigeration is unnecessary unless stated in the package. Don’t forget to seal the container tightly after use.
Stevia powder typically has three years of shelf life. Check the best-by date before use. Don’t use the product if it looks unusual, smells off, or tastes unpleasant.
*Image by Photosg/depositphotos